Wat Pho

Daily Post topic: Grab the nearest book to you right now. Jump to paragraph 3, second Sentence. Write it in a post.

Book: The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget, 1st edition
Page: 758
Paragraph 3: Wat Pho
Second Sentence: In 1832, Rama turned the temple into “Thailand’s first university” by decorating the walls with diagrams on history, literature, and animal husbandry.

Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s most famous attractions. It is usually the first destination for tourists. Its immense reclining Buddha figure is so perfect for the perception and stereotype of glittery Thai culture with its deep religious roots. I did not know about the animal husbandry; if I have to accompany more visitors back to Wat Pho, you can bet I’ll be paying very  close attention to the murals on that go-around!

Wat Pho is also said to be the home of the Thai massage. There is a school on the grounds where you can get an 30-minute Thai massage from students. I forget what going rate is. It is truly unfortunate that the location is rather inconvenient. Every time I am there, it’s in the middle of a hot sweaty day out sightseeing. Getting a massage in my sticky condition only to have to continue trudging in the humidity never ever appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong. At the right place and time, Thai massages are a godsend and a great way for me to loosen up my muscles.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

Nikon D80, f 5.6, 1/125, 35mm

Taken at the reconstructed Temple of Philae in Aswan, Egypt. The original one was on sinking island so the Government of Egypt succeeded in a huge undertaking of rebuilding the temple on a different island.

I’m fond of two things to photograph. Pillars and sunsets. Pillars always create an array of different lines for my composition. I’ve noticed I have the tendency to take my pictures a little crooked, a habit I’m trying very hard to fix, now that I am aware of it.

White Wat

Let’s admit it. After a while, all wats start looking alike. And seeing another one bores more than impresses. A glimpse at the photo of the White Temple, though, bespoke of an unusual sight.

What was just as stunning is the paintings inside the walls of the wat. Still under work with the artists drawing right under the tourists’ legs, murals spoke some pretty political messages. Such as the World Trade Towers being attacked, both towers twined by a gas hose with the nozzles you put in your car. Then the planet shaped like a male symbol melting. The messages didn’t preclude a drawing of superman and the transformers. All the more provocative images were on the far side of the temple, opposite the Buddha and praying monk. I read his message to be leaving the distractions of the modern world behind in search of attaining the enlightment. Who knows. All the signs and writing were in Thai.

I couldn’t shake a sense of familiarity until I saw a frame Time article. Ah HA.

The temple isn’t done yet. Most of the buildings haven’t been added their elaborate design, carving, and framing, leaving the bare square corners of the pagoda buildings. I felt like the simple clean lines bore a start contrast to the extensive curves and winding outline of the primary building. Sadly, I’m willing to bet the rest of the buildings will be as intricately decorated.


I treated my family to a holiday trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. For the folks, Cambodia was an eye opener. For all, Angkor was an impressive sight to behold.

It wasn’t Angkor Wat itself that struck us, but the enormity of the entire Angkor compounds. Old structures and temples always amaze me, especially when I try to envision how people had to build all this by true craftsmanship, and brutal manpower. No cranes to do the heavy lifting. No machines to do the carving. Just tons of humans slaving over the construction, likely at a mortal cost to many.

Honestly, after a few days, all the wats started looking alike. Our going to the major two first probably made the rest feel anticlimatic. A side benefit of going to the smaller ones, though, was the smaller size and lesser tourists made the site feel much more intimate and less overwhelming.


Perhaps one of the coolest places I had the opportunity to venture off to amidst my many work trips in the region is Borobudur, a Buddhist relic in the now Muslim country of Indonesia. Built in the 8th and 9th centuries, this shrine is old. I mean OLD. But obviously very much reconstructed by modern restoration, given the smooth and finished quality of most of the stones, although they haven’t gotten around to the re-heading the mostly decapitated Buddha statues. I’m willing to wager those almost 500-strong heads were largely pilfered and probably floating around the world hidden or mistaken as cheap stone antique imitations.

Borobudur is enormous. Back then, the Asians in the region were tiny. More so than now. How they climbed up and down the steps is beyond me. Some steps were so steep and footstep depth so narrow, I felt like I ought to sit on the steps and scoot my butt up and down for safer movements. It certainly rings true to the meaning to “climbing” stairs. Despite the largely reconstructed nature of the temple, it still retains a strong sense of ancient to it, perhaps sped up by the humid wet climate.